Third plaintiff added to class-action suit opposing county trash districts, haulers

Staff Report

A third plaintiff has been added in the class-action lawsuit against St. Louis County and the three waste haulers that serve its trash districts exclusively.

Oakville resident Mike Weber joined Paul Marquis of Fenton and Cathy Armbruster of Lemay last week in their suit against the county, Allied Waste, IESI and Veolia Environmental Services.

The county awarded contracts to the three haulers last year to serve eight trash districts in unincorporated areas, one hauler per district. Residents in those districts must establish trash service with their authorized hauler or face fines and, in some cases, prosecution.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys amended their petition Friday to include Weber after IESI claimed it could not be sued because neither Marquis nor Armbruster live in its trash district. Weber does.

The class-action suit, filed in September with the St. Louis County Circuit Court, claims both the trash districts and the mandated trash service are illegal.

The plaintiffs contend the county violated a state statute by not providing a two-year notice of its impending trash district program to other waste haulers, and its own law by not putting the program to a public vote.

Representing residents and other county property owners, the plaintiffs want Allied, IESI and Veolia to repay all the fees they’ve collected since they began servicing the trash districts last fall.

The lawsuit also asks the court to declare county ordinances establishing the districts and prohibiting unauthorized haulers from providing trash removal within them “illegal and void.”

But the county has motioned to dismiss the suit, arguing that the issue didn’t have to go before voters and that the “two-year notice” Missouri law, which was enacted several months after the County Council approved the trash district program, cannot be applied retroactively.

The case initially was to go before Circuit Judge Patrick Clifford, but the county successfully motioned for a change of judge last month.

Circuit Judge Robert Cohen took the county’s motion to dismiss the suit under submission Friday.